Interview with Dhruv Ratra: CEO of Sports and Marketing, Anglian Holdings

(From left to right)Kurt Andersen (FCV), Dhruv Ratra and  Larsing “Ming” Sawyan(SLFC)

With respect to the recent announcement of Shillong Lajong's tie up with Danish First Division side FCV Vikings, we caught up with the CEO of Sports and Marketing, Anglian Holdings, one of the masterminds behind the entire development.
Anglian Holdings


Indian Football - The Blog:  A brief introduction of yourself and Anglian Holdings.

Dhruv Ratra:  Anglian Holdings is an NRI-owned diverse multi-national company that has established a variety of businesses and partnerships across India, US and Europe, such as steel manufacturing, commodities trading, green energy, real estate, luxury retirement homes, leisure resorts, beauty and lifestyle, business incubation, sports, etc.  Our goal is to create and sustain successful businesses based upon Indian entrepreneurship and ingenuity.  For more details, please visit www.anglianholdings.com.  


My personal involvement with the company is in the capacity of CEO of Sports and Marketing.  I left India more than 25 years ago to pursue further studies at the University of Chicago and then MIT, after which I experienced success as a serial entrepreneur based out of Silicon Valley.  More than anything else, I have been playing football (soccer) from a very early age and in 1982 even attempted to get a scholarship to play in West Germany (which did not happen, for obvious reasons).  While playing competitively in the US, I was fortunate to be associated with some of the first US football players who went over to play at the highest levels in Europe during the late 80s / early 90s, and was directly exposed to their experiences.

Shillong Lajong's tie up with FC Vikings
                           
Indian Football - The Blog:  How did Shillong Lajong FC came to the center stage of the deal? When and how the entire picture came to life?

Dhruv Ratra:  Anglian Holdings has always been interested in partnering with “businesses” that have a good management team and a strong foundation.  In the case of a football club, this translates to an established club that has close ties with its fan base and community, and is an extension of them.  After our deal with FC Vestsjælland in Denmark during Spring/Summer of 2011, we began to look at and meet with a number of clubs all over India.  Finally, towards the end of the year, and after numerous meetings between the two parties, it became clear that both Shillong Lajong and Anglian Holdings had very similar objectives for the future and an alliance was agreed to.


Indian Football - The Blog:  What exactly the tie-up is all about? Will it involve players moving in between the clubs? 

Dhruv Ratra:  The tie-up is essentially a strategic alliance between the two parties that would help facilitate the bi-directional transfer of talent, expertise and know how between Shillong Lajong and FC Vestsjælland.   It will most definitely involve the movement of players both for training as well as for playing purposes.  It will also involve the movement of members of coaching staff as well. 

Dhruv Ratra, CEO, Sports and Marketing,
Anglian Holdings
Indian Football - The Blog:  How much do you feel the Indian players will gain from the tie-up?

Dhruv Ratra:  We believe Indian players will benefit tremendously from being given the opportunity to play competitive football on a regular basis at a level commensurate with their abilities.  Furthermore, the more a player gets exposed to training, mental and physical conditioning, diet, education and other areas, the better he is going to get.  The same goes for members of the coaching staff as well.


Indian Football - The Blog:  What are the plans for the company having acquired 25% shares of Shillong Lajong FC? Will we see more such tie-ups? 

Dhruv Ratra:  We want to do whatever it takes to improve the standard of football in India, and would like to partner with as many entities that share our philosophy and vision.  We realize that we have to start from the ground up, and that the path forward will be a slow one.  The immediate plan is to assess the Indian standard against an upwardly mobile Danish 1st Division team and start addressing weaknesses while continuing to build upon strengths.  We will also be working with Lajong to formalize their plans for an academy so we can identify and nurture talent at an early stage.


Indian Football - The Blog:  Apart from this historical bond, are there any future projects that the company is interested in doing or have already started doing?

Dhruv Ratra:  We are looking at the improvement of the standard of football not just on the playing field but also in the form of building an academy as well as looking at exciting new possibilities for digitally connecting with fans of all ages across the country.


Indian Football - The Blog:  Regarding football in India...

Dhruv Ratra:  Football in India is at an inflection point.  As Mr. Blatter recently said, India is starting to wake up and it’s just a matter of time before which India begins to find a foothold on the global stage.  In recent years, we have experienced tremendous success globally in business, cricket, individual sports and now the time has come for football. However, as one can see from the experiences in the US, Korea and Japan, we should not expect things to change overnight - it will be a gradual process, one that starts from the ground up.  And the success of the sport in India will be dependent not only on the players and coaching staff, but also on the fans, journalists and bloggers, all of whom play an extremely important role that will help shape the next Messi or Maradona.
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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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